Disclaimers: Mine.

Note: This is a sequel piece (yes, I'm breaking my own rule, and NO, don't get used to it) so please leave here and read Dance With Me, first.

Sex: Yeppers.

If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com

Play It Again, Grey


Kim Pritekel


Two weeks ago:


"Yo! Grey, chill out, girl! Beating up the machine isn't going to make it work."

I glared up at my roommate, chest heaving as I bared my teeth. Shane chuckled, patting me on the back.

"Let the mouse go," he cooed, raising perfectly trimmed brows. "Let it go,"

I glanced over at my hand, which rested on the god forsaken thing, lifting one finger.

"Good girl. Only four more to go."

"Ah, to hell with it." With a childish grunt, I threw the blasted thing, grinning in satisfied electonicide as it crashed against the wall.

If I weren't so ticked I would have laughed at Shane, standing there, hand frozen in mid-air, mouth gaping open. Finally shaken out of his shock, he looked at me, eyes huge.

"What the hell did you do that for?" His fists found his neatly belted waist, hazel eyes narrowing as they took in my flushed face. I brought my hand up, sweeping a long strand of hair from my face.

"It didn't work," I muttered, pushing back in my chair.

"Well no shit! Honey, it didn't work because you were beating on it. That little laser mouse cost me-"

"Yes, yes, Shane, I know. You couldn't go to 'God of Butts' new years' concert," I grumbled stomping past him.

"No, but I couldn't get his greatest hits!" he called after me.

Finding myself in the living room, I fell to my knees, tugging open the door of the cabinet in the entertainment center, where we kept odd equipment.

"Shane! Where's my old mouse?"

"Grey, honey, why don't you just break down and get rid of that fifty seven Chevy, and join the twenty-first century."

I glared up at my roommate, throwing one of the six old controllers for Shane's dust-covered PlayStation. He ducked the flying object.

"No really," he jumped as three of his games went whizzing across the floor. Following their progress as they crashed into the couch, he continued. "you've been saving money for a car, when you know damn well that you hate the traffic, will piss and moan about parking and will sell it within six months like you did the last one."

"I sold the last one because it had a leak we could never find," I growled, getting to my feet.

"And why did it have a leak?" Shane asked, crossing his arms over a very well defined chest, brows raised dramatically. "Maybe because you tore open the undercarriage when you trounced over the sidewalk to get out of the traffic!"

I wanted to keep my glare, but it was fading fast. Shane knew me well. Grinning, he stepped over to me. Sometimes I'd look at him and was surprised all over again at just how gorgeous he turned out, with his natural tan, dark hair styled just so, and twinkling hazel eyes. His dimples winked at me as he began to chip away at what he saw as an opening.

"Let's go out and get you updated."

Hands on hips, I gave him my best glare. Satisfied as Shane took a step back as I stepped toward him.

"I am not buying a laptop, Shane," a poke punctuating each word. "Those things are way overpriced for what they do for you."

"Honey," Shane tried to reason with me, placing his hands on my shoulders. With my growl, his hands flopped back to his sides. "You work from home half the time, and think of it this way- now that the TV went out in the den, you could take your computer with you to the living room," he indicated the room around his with a dramatic flourish. "That way you won't have to blare the neighbors out by turning the TV in here up and burst the speakers."

"What? I do not-"

"Grey, I know you have to have your Unsolved Mysteries on Lifetime." Shane shifted his weight to his other hip, eyeing me.

How'd he know about that? I said nothing, turning from him to start cleaning up my mess, shoving game controllers, printer cartridges and drum sticks back under the cabinet.

"Drum sticks?" I picked them up, looking back at my roommate. He rubbed the back of his neck.

"When I was dating that musician," he muttered. Looking down at the two brown sticks in my hand, I dropped them to the floor with a shiver.

"I don't want to know." Heading back to the den, I heard Shane following.

"Grey, you have been nickel-diming that damn computer for the past year and a half." He stood against the doorframe, watching as I gathered all my research material for my article, shoving it all into my briefcase. I'd have to go to the library to finish it up. Again.

"Drop it, Shane." I glared at him, tired of his cheap attempts. He refused to put the money out to buy his own computer, so had been after me to buy a new one. I heaved the straps over my shoulder, and walked past him. "I'll be back later."

I stopped at the curb, waiting for a small force of cars to pass before I trotted across the street, heading the three blocks to the subway.

Sighing heavily, I pushed my hair out of my face. I knew I'd have to apologize to my best friend later, no reason for me to lose my temper like that. Yes, he was a self-serving wench, but has always been that way, and there was far more good in him than bad.

It was time for me to make some decisions in my life. My relationship with Dawn was beginning to get to me. So much uncertainty, the woman never knowing from day to day what she wanted from me. We'd been together for just under a year now, and just when I think we're starting to really get somewhere, and deciding which direction we want our relationship to go in, she backs off.

It had been bothering me for a couple months now, and unfortunately, Shane being the closest person to me, he took the brunt. Luckily the gay boy handled it with grace and aplomb. Sometimes I didn't think I deserved Shane as a best friend. He'd put up with so much for more than twenty years.

My eyes were hooded in boredom as I sat on the seat, body rocking slightly with the motion of the train. Glancing around me, I met the gazes of a few travelers, but like them, quickly turned back to my own world. I noticed someone had left a scattered Times on the seat across from me. Snatching it, I tried to put it into some sort of readable order.

Flipping through the pages, I tried to find something of interest to read. Stumbling along the entertainment section, my eyes nearly bulged from my skull.


"Son of a …" The newspaper fell to the floor of the car as I pushed up, getting off at the next stop.

"Wait, wait, what? Calm down and take a breath." Shane looked at me with concerned eyes, a calming hand on my arm. Words defying me, I shoved the page into his chest. He took it, straightening out the wrinkled advertisement. He read it, then looked up at me, shaking his head, not understanding the significance.

"Look!" I exclaimed, pointing excitedly at the ad. Shane, no more illuminated than when I first handed him the page. "Christian!"

"Sorry, honey. I'm Jewish." He smirked, handing the page back to me. I reached up, grabbing him by the cheeks, making him look me in the eye.

"Christian Scott, Shane. The Christian. My Christian."

It took a moment of blank stares, but finally Shane's eyes widened. He snatched the page out of my grubby little hands, reading it again. He whistled between his teeth, then glanced up at me.

"She did it."

"Yeah, she did, didn't she," I murmured, looking down at her name again. I had been so lost in my thoughts of the last time I'd seen her that I hadn't even given thought to what this meant. Some things never changed; guess where Christian was concerned, I was meant to be a cad forever.

I turned away from my friend and roommate, taking a seat on the couch. He must have noticed the change in my mood, as he quickly hurried over to sit beside me.

"Grey?" he said, his voice quiet yet filled with question, just an edge of his previous excitement. I stared down at my hands, which were loosely laced together. "What is it?"

My mind raced through the years, twenty-five, twenty-two, nineteen, eighteen ….

"Sometimes I just wish that I could find someone who saw me as more than just a body."

I held the mug of coffee Shane had brought me when I began my story. Now the cup sat cold between my palms. We both sat there in silence, me deep in memories and Shane, well, I just wasn't sure.

"Whoa," he finally breathed, running a hand through his hair. He looked over at me. "Why didn't you tell me any of this before?" I could detect the slightest bit of hurt in his voice. Glancing at him, I smiled.

"Because it was too special to tell anyone." I couldn't keep the soft smile off my lips as a fleeting memory caressed my skin.

"How did it happen?" Shane leaned back against the couch, running his arm along the back, fingers playing with a strand of my hair. That had been a habit of his since we were kids.

"Oh, boy," I blew out, leaning further into his touch. "She," I stared ahead, again my mind flying through time. "she came to my apartment. Knocked on my door, and there you have it."

"Just like that?"

"Just like that."

"But was there any indication? I mean, flirting, backstage kissing…" his voice trailed off as he studied me. I shook my head. "Nothing?" Again I shook my head.

"I've never forgotten her," I said, my voice soft in reverence for the young girl I had been, filled with confusion and ignorance of the mysteries of love in all its forms. "Well," I said, slapping my hands to my knees as I pushed myself to my feet. "I'm glad to know she finally got the recognition she deserves. She's a wonderful dancer."

With that declaration, I snatched the ad from Shane's fingers and headed off to my bedroom, closing the door behind me.


"Okay," glancing up at the screen, I clicked to highlight the address bar. "D-E-L-L dot com." I waited as the computer maker site trudged its way onto the screen. Tapping my chin, I scrolled around, clicking on various models of desktops.

Not knowing a mega bite from a Mega Gulp, I rested my cheek in the palm of my hand, already bored at the lists of computer jargon that meant diddly to me. Shane knew what all this crap meant, but it would be a cold day in hell before I'd let him know I was considering a new computer.

Tipping my chair back, I leaned back as far as I could, trying to get a good look out into the apartment. I hadn't heard Shane coming back home from work yet, but I wanted to make sure.

"Shit!" I barely caught myself as the chair tried to rebel and hit the deck. Grabbing the edge of the desk, I got myself back into position, then clicked onto the laptop link. I wasn't going to give the little fairy the satisfaction of knowing I was thinking about taking his advice, and that I had actually listened to him for once.

I checked the prices for various models, impressed with some of the less technical features that I could actually understand. Obviously just for curiosity's sake, I wandered into the payment plan link, you know, just to see what they offered if I were to be interested.

"Wow," I muttered, chewing on my bottom lip. "I could definitely handle that." Clicking and typing all the correct places, I finally was able to click on the ORDER button, and I had me a brand new Inspiron 9300 on its way with a whole buncha mega this and mega that.

I sent the cursor back up to the address bar and highlighted it once again. Fingers on autopilot, I was surprised to find myself at Ticket Master. Once again pulling my bottom lip into my mouth, I typed in 'Midnight Race', curious when it was playing.

The smile crept onto my lips before I even realized it, seeing Christian's name on that screen, where it should have been years ago, and may very well have been, for all I know. After all, it had been what, some thirteen years ago since she'd left? Where did she go? And the thing that had bothered me for so many years, why didn't she say goodbye? Well, that is, I guess she did. I wish I had been awake, or she had left a note.

I sighed, knowing that it did me absolutely no good to live in the past. It was just that- the past. I found myself in a search engine, typing in her name. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of hits I got, including several fan sites dedicated to the "… best, brightest talent of her generation." And that's a direct quote!

After living in Denver, Co. for a year and a half, dancing at the Rickman School of Dance, Scott made her way through Scottsdale, Az., finally ending up in San Francisco. She danced at the Aldred School for the Performing Arts under the tutelage of celebrated dancer, Erika Storenski.

By the age of twenty-six Christian had danced her way to London, where she traveled with the Royal Dance Corp. for six years, winning several core roles, including that of Sleeping Beauty, Cosette in Les Miserables, and Victor/Victoria in the play of the same name.

As of this writing, Christian has started to make her mark in New York's Broadway scene.

I couldn't help but eat up every article I could, so happy for her, my eyes wide as I soaked in the pictures that accompanied many of them. There was one in particular that caught my attention.

Sitting back in my chair, I looked at it, my mind absorbing what Christian looked like five years ago. The picture was in black and white, a severe close up of her face. The expression was calm, yet there was something in her eyes that caught the onlooker instantly.

The depth I remembered so well was still there, though it had grown more intense with age. There was a fire and a confidence there that definitely had not been there when she'd been twenty-one or twenty-two. Even in black and white the color was magnificent, the way light played and reflected.

"Wow." Time had definitely been most kind.


"So, I'm like, wait a second, Mr. Holland. You did not just give away the Meinke account."

"Huh," I said absently, staring down at the pork chop I'd been tearing apart for the past five minutes.


"Wow, Shane. New account."


"Huh?" My head lifted, eyes wide, trying to focus. My friend was staring at me from his seat to my left. "What?"

"You're not listening to a damn thing I'm saying," he said, obviously hurt with me. Blinking several times I looked at him, letting my brain try and catch up with my ears. I shook myself from my barren void.

"Ah, hell, I'm sorry, Shane. You lost the account?" I encouraged, trying to give him my full attention.

"Forget it." He sipped from his wine, looking down at his meal as he set the glass down.

"No, come on. Finish your story."

He looked at me for a moment, studying me. "Go to the damn show already."

I blinked, taken aback by his words. "What?"

"Grey, you've been lost in your own little world for the past two weeks now. I know where you're head is, so just do us both a favor and go. Okay?" He stood, throwing his napkin down on the table. "Maybe then I'll get my best friend back," he muttered as he left the dining room.

Sighing heavily, I let my fork drop to the plate, feeling like a total schmuck.

The mirror wasn't showing me what I needed it to show me. I needed it to shout out, wowee! It just wasn't happening.

With a sigh, I turned back to the my closet, pushing clothing aside to see if my fourteenth outfit would call to me more than the thirteenth. I saw a pair of my favorite jeans that fit me in all the right places. Snatching them from the hanger, I also grabbed a heavy, Irish wool sweater, that would look far better on Christian than it did on me, the deep green of the material would do incredible things to her eyes.

Sitting on the edge of my bed lacing up my comfy, warm brown boots, I stood, smoothing my pant legs into place.

Luckily after years around performers I'd gotten past the pretentious ways of the casual theater goer. I didn't feel the need to show off my Sunday best, knowing full well that those on stage didn't give a rat's ass what the audience wore, as long as they were there.

Running a brush through my hair one last time, I decided I was ready, like it or not. I was running out of time and patience with my own stupidity. I was going to the theater, not a date for crying out loud.

Grabbing my heavy pea coat, keys and white rose I'd bought earlier, I was ready to step out into the November New York night.

I was stunned to feel my palms sweating as the train took me closer and closer to my destination. Nerves were eating up my insides, and it took several deep breaths to get me moving once the doors had whooshed open at my stop. God, how did she make me feel like I was seventeen again?


The curtain opened, and the wonder I'd felt as a teenager seeped out my ears as I saw the vision of the woman she'd become. Though Christian was no more than four years older than myself, seeing her on that stage, her body exquisite as it moved, carried the voice of her character, silently telling the story of a young girl, tortured throughout life, I was rapt awe once again. I was not surprised to feel tears silently streaming down my cheeks, so lost in the story and the past, I was.


As the cast stood for their applause, the leading lady took the apron, bowing at the waist as the cheers echoed through the theater, filling me with so much pride and happiness for her. She deserved this honor.

The lobby was filled with boisterous voices as theater goers met to talk about the production they'd just seen, many carrying flutes of champagne. I did not wait around to chat about the amazing performances, I was waiting around for what I knew came if only you waited long enough.

As the lobby began to thin out, a few scattered groups lingering, two heavy doors opened, and a small group of plain clothed people emerged. I felt my heartbeat pick up, my fingers finding the gift that sat next to me on the bench.

A few gasps rose as people realized it was the cast themselves coming out, leaving for the night. I hung back, content to sit on my bench as I saw her, swallowed up by admirers. I could hear Christian's lilting voice, gentle and accepting of their praise, and graciously signing autographs.

She looked so different yet much the same. Her face had thinned somewhat, the look of a young girl now replaced by the confidence of a woman. She wore blue jeans, though no holes in these, and black boots. Her sweater hugged her body, which was still glorious. Her hair was now long, the golden strands free around her shoulders and face.

She was stunning.

Christian stepped away from the last group, the dancer was making her way toward the door, long overcoat draped over her arm.

"Christian," I said softly, standing. She stopped at the sound of her name, turning to face me. It took a moment, but then I saw recognition bleed into those amazing green eyes. A look of stunned pleasure filled her face as she walked over to me.

"Oh my god," she said quietly, seeming to try and reconcile today with so long ago. "Grey!" She took me in a warm hug, then stepped away, wonder filling her eyes. She smiled shyly as I handed her the white rose.

"You were incredible," I said, my voice soft and filled with reverence for her craft.

"Thank you." She inhaled the fragrant flower, then cocked her head slightly to the side. So much stayed the same. "What are you doing here?"

"I live here."

"No kidding?"

"Nope. No kidding. I saw that you were starring on Broadway, so I had to come and see it. It's about damn time someone realized just how good you are." I gave her my best smile, and she chuckled slightly, looking down at the rose, which her fingers played with.

"Well, I'm glad you did. And I'm glad you enjoyed it."

"Very much so. You were truly brilliant." As she looked up at me, I could only hope she could see the truth behind my words. She took my breath away.

"What are you doing right now?" she asked, her words quiet.

"Seems I'm talking to the star of the show."

She rolled her eyes, batting my arm playfully. "Well, would you like to get some coffee with said star?"

My smile widened, and I nodded. "Absolutely."

"Great." She smiled at me, then whipped her coat around her shoulders, sliding her arms into the sleeves. Digging black, leather gloves from the pockets, she glanced over at me. She said nothing, just seemed to need a second look. I smiled politely, stepping through the glass door of the theater, holding the door for her. With a quiet thank you, she stepped through, joining me on the sidewalk.

"Do I need to hail us a cab?" I asked, nodding toward the street. She shook her head.

"Ever been to Jerry's? It's just down the street."

"Lead the way." I followed as she took us to the left, the sidewalks filled with people, folks getting out of nearby shows, talking and laughing. I could feel my heart beating at a ridiculous cadence as we continued on, neither of us saying a word. I didn't know what to say, my throat suddenly like the Sahara. I could see her long, blonde hair whipping in the cold night wind, and it struck me anew each time. It was so very different from what I remembered.

"How long have you been in the city, Grey?" she asked suddenly, breaking me from my thoughts.

"About three years," I quietly explained. She nodded, then grinned.

"Got you beat by a year."

"Oh yeah?" I didn't want her to know I'd researched everything about her save for her bra size. But then, guess I kind of already knew that.

Again, I held the door for her once we reached the small deli. I was freezing as the warmth of the place hit me, a shiver passing through me.

"Coffee?" she asked, looking up at me. I nodded. "Grab us a table, will you?" A gentle hand on my arm, then she was gone, heading toward the line that was beginning to grow. I made my way back through the busy deli, managing to grab one of the few tables that remained.

I still felt like I was in a daze, not sure what to make of everything. She had really thrown me for a loop with the coffee invite. I figured I'd be lucky if I managed to snag her for a congratulations after the show. I wasn't prepared for this, and really wasn't sure how to handle it.

Or maybe I was just over analyzing it and should just be myself. As appealing a thought as that might have been, I had to remember that every time I'd been myself with this woman the last time she was in my life, I always got myself in trouble.

"They have the best coffee here," Christian was saying, suddenly materializing across from me. I nodded absently, watching as she let her coat slide off her shoulders, flopping onto the back of her chair.

A cup of steaming brew was set before me, a small mountain of cream cups and sugar packets between us.

"You didn't hit me as a Splenda or diet sugar kind of gal," she grinned, noting the white and blue Holly Sugar packets that littered the table. I couldn't help but grin back.

"Why? Are you trying to tell me something?" I asked, brow raised. I grabbed two bags of the stuff, knocking them both against the table to get the granules at the bottom of the bag so I could rip off the tops.

"What, you need to sweeten your day?" she chuckled, pouring a cream cup into her coffee, then stirring it with one of the thin straws she'd brought for that purpose. Holding the cup between her bare hands, green eyes closed as a look of contented pleasure crossed her face. She took a careful sip then set the cup back to the table. Eyes opening, she looked at me, catching me in mid-sip.

"So how long is the show slated to last?" I finally asked, setting my own cup aside, yet keeping my hands tucked around it to thaw them. Unlike the industrious Miss Scott, I'd forgotten to bring gloves.

"I have a three month contract with option for three more," she said, her voice soft. I always thought she had a wonderful voice. It had a calming quality. Then again, maybe it was because I so rarely heard it.

"Impressive. Someone's happy with you."

She smiled at me, nervously tucking her hair behind her ear. "So what do you do in the big, bad city, Grey?" She brought her elbow to the table, leaning her cheek into the palm of her hand.

"I write for New York Magazine," I explained simply. "I also indulge in my true passion now and then- writing novels."

"You're a writer?" she asked, surprise and mild excitement filling her eyes. I nodded, sipping to unthaw my insides.

"Yup. Imagine mom's excitement at finding out that I do have some sort of creative talent." We both chuckled.

"Other than singing cutsie little songs about teddy bears for Christmas?" she added, fingers absently playing with one of the little cream cups.

"Oh boy," I brought a hand up, rubbing the back of my neck, looking anywhere but at her. The beautiful sound of her laugh brought my gaze around to her.

"How is your mom, by the way?" The soft tone of her voice surprised me. It was almost reverent.

"She's good. Still cracking the whip on unsuspecting students." I grinned. "She's hired on a few instructors now, though. She mainly just handles choreography."

"That's wonderful. Please tell her I said hello."

"Or you can tell her yourself," I grinned. "She and dad are coming up for Christmas. No doubt they'd love to catch you show."

"I'd be delighted!" The light in her eyes was so damn bright. God, she could light up an entire city block.

"So would she." So was I.

She smiled at me, then cocked her head slightly to the side, as though in some sort of contemplation. I glanced at her, but then had to drop my eyes, focusing instead on my coffee cup. Finally her soft voice floated over to me.

"You and Brian look a lot alike."

Surprised to hear her mention my brother, I looked back up at her. She could see the question in my eyes.

"I had the opportunity to work with him in Berlin," she explained, bringing her cup to her lips.

"Really? Did you get to see his boys?" I asked, brows raised in excitement. She chuckled.

"Oh, yes. Tanner and Ryan are adorable. He would bring them in during rehearsal so we could all fell in love with them, watching them try to emulate their daddy. They got your eyes," she said, almost as an after thought.

"That's what I hear." I smiled proudly. "Mom is biting at the bit to see the twins again. He and Melanie travel so often, and usually out of the country, it's hard to get everyone together. Tanner and Ryan are her first grandchildren, and she fears the only." My laugh was strong as I remembered all the threats mom had thrown at me over the years. I could see the twinkle in those green eyes.

"No children in your future, Grey?"

You wanna be Mommy number 2?!

I shrugged with a sheepish grin. "Who knows. It's not a definite, and it's not a no. You know?"

She nodded. "Well," she said, downing the rest of her coffee. "I should be going. Brutus will wonder where the hell I'm at."

"Oh, uh, okay." I gave her a bright smile to cover a sudden sense of disappointment. We both stood, gathering our trash and bundling up. Once we'd reached the sidewalk outside, Christian turned to me, smiling.

"I'm so glad you came, Grey," she said, her voice soft and sincere. "And thanks again." She held up the rose.

"You're most welcome. Take care of yourself, and break a leg." I winked, and she gave me the most charming smile.


I watched as she made her way down the street, quickly disappearing within the throng of people. With a heavy sigh, I headed for the subway.


The music swelled, the tension running high. Draped in the ghostly wraps of her character, I watched as Christian whipped around the stage, a blur as she danced around Haiman, the character who had summoned her.

I felt my breath catch and tears come to my eyes as Haiman pleaded with her to stay with him, the music slowing, his body in slow, powerful arch's and leaps, the bright, silver light above them, symbolizing the moonlight in the graveyard, made every curve on both their bodies explode from the stage.

Heretha moved over to Haiman, Christian's form perfect, body fluid. She had such an amazingly expressive face, her eyes filled with all the sorrow her character felt at having to leave the heartbroken Haiman.

The auditorium filled with a rising crest of violin with underlying cello to resonate the depth of the lovers' sadness. The time had come for Heretha to go back to the other side, and leave Haiman forever.

Christian danced around the other dancer, her hands caressing him, her touch fading as the intensity of the moon grew. Soon the stage was flooded with almost blinding silver light, being lit from behind as Haiman disappeared, leaving Heretha to dance her lonely dance of transcendence. She whipping her body into a frenzy, leaping through the air, landing on her knees, her body but a silhouette against the backdrop of such intense light. As the music reached a nearly deafening crescendo, Christian opened her arms wide, head thrown back, hair flowing down her back. She was lifted into the air, rising to her everlasting peace in the Heavens.

The curtains were closed as the music died down, the crowd roaring to its feet, me among them. My palms stung like mad, my eyes still brimming. I couldn't take the smile from my lips. Incredible! Absolutely incredible!

Turning to my mother, I saw that she, too was crying. I thought it was so sweet- you'd think her very own daughter had just scored a huge triumph, she was so proud.

"She's amazing," mom blew out as we gathered our coats after the cast took the stage for the third round of ovations. "She was good before, but now…" Mom wiped at her eyes once more, glancing in her compact to make sure her makeup wasn't running.

We elbowed our way through the crowd, finally making it back stage. It certainly had its advantages, having a mom who was once a famous dancer in this city. We were happily led to the dressing rooms.

I felt my palms becoming sweaty as I raised my fist, my heart pounding three times as loud as my rap on the door.

Within a few moments, the door was pulled open, and Christian stood there, still in costume and her silvery makeup, making her look ethereal, ever so much the beautiful spirit. The wispy material of her dress floated around her as she moved. Her eyes widened when she saw me.

"Grey!" she beamed, taking me into a quick hug.

"Hey," I grinned, feeling so very awwww shucks. "Merry Christmas. I brought you a gift." Stepping aside, mom stepped forward, taking the stunned little blonde into a warm, heartfelt hug.

"Oh, Christian," mom breathed. "You were so beautiful." She released the woman, holding her by the shoulders. She looked down at Christian with such tender pride, both Christian and I had to swallow or be effected by it.

"Thank you, Bernie," Christian said softly. The smile that lit her face lit the entire room and hallway we stood in. "it's so wonderful to see you. Please, come in, both of you." The dancer stepped back into the small dressing room, closing the door after me.

Looking around, I saw what I'd seen a thousands times before, though not in many years- vanity top covered with bottles and tubes of makeup and creams, costume changes draped over anything that would stay still. Pointe shoes and rolls of tape littered one corner.

"As soon as Grey told me about Midnight Race, and your performance, I just knew we had to come and see you. I'm so proud of you!" Again, Christian was quickly pulled into a tight hug. I watched the two women carefully, warmth spreading through me. Christian hugged my mother just as tightly, her eyes squeezing shut before opening upon release.

"Thank you so much, Bernie," Christian said, her voice soft. She looked down quickly, but not before I caught the glimmer of emotion in her eyes.

Mom seemed to sense a change of subject was needed, so she clapped her hands together. "We, dear girl, are taking you out to dinner."

Christian looked up, glancing from my mother to me and back, her eyes wide with surprise.

"Well, wait mom," I said quickly, stepping forward. I knew how overwhelming mom could be. "Why don't you see if the poor thing has plans, first." Please, oh please say you don't have any plans.

"Oh, uh, no. I don't." Christian smiled brightly. "Just let me change."

"Of course. We'll wait for you in the lobby." One last hug to the overwhelmed woman, and an apologetic smile from me, and mom and I were out of there.

Dad was waiting for us, sitting on the same bench I'd sat on the first time I saw the show. With the cane he had to use with his prosthetic legs, it was difficult for him to be in large groups of people, so he opted to wait.

I listened as mom and dad gushed about the production, and mom went on and on about how beautiful Christian was, and how her talent had exploded.

I watched the crowd, scanning for her. I had taken Shane to see the show last week, and I myself had been here three times alone. The show just seemed to get better and better, the cast getting more comfortable with their parts, and finding their own voice.

A smile immediately crossed my features when I spotted her weaving her way through the crowds. Many didn't realize it was her, as she looked so vastly different with her makeup off and in jeans and a heavy, fleece button up shirt. The few who did, however, stopped her, and soon a crowd had drawn.

Glancing at mom and dad, I saw the wistful smiles they shared, mom resting her head on dad's shoulder. To have that kind of love. What a wonderful, rare thing.

"She deserves this so much," mom said softly. I nodded in agreement.

It took nearly forty-five minutes for Christian to extract herself from her fans, heading our way again. I felt my heartbeat quicken, and absently wiped my hands on the thighs of my pants.

"Christian, this is my husband, Dennis."

"Mr. Rickman, a pleasure." Christian smiled. She accepted the light kiss dad put on her cheek.

"You were wonderful," he said with bright eyes. "Reminded me so much of Bernie on that very stage."

"I've heard that you two were a stunning pair," Christian said softly, looking back and forth between my parents.

"We were." Dad's grin was wide, and his wink teasing. "So, are we all ready?"

Sonnette's was packed, Saturday night crowds talking and celebrating the weekend. After over an hour, we were able to be seated.

I focused on my dinner as my parents, who sat on either side of me, Christian across from me, talked to the dancer about who was running things these days, as well as comparing notes on people the three had in common.

I did my best to not feel left out, the conversation way over my head. Some of the names I had heard before, but had no history with them. I hadn't done anything in the theater since I'd left Denver so many years ago. Sometimes I missed the environment, and thought about working on the lighting or stage crew, but just never seemed to find the time or energy.

I felt eyes on me, and looked up to see a green gaze studying me. When she saw she had my attention, Christian gave me a small smile, then with a small tuck of hair behind her ear, she turned to my father who was asking about Hal Prince, a celebrated stage director they had both worked with at one point.

My eyes stayed on the dancer, studying the way the intimate lighting of the restaurant shone on her hair, making the rich gold color shine with healthy thickness. I remembered how soft her hair was, and if I thought hard enough, could still feel its strands against my fingers. My gaze traveled to her profile, her lips moving as she talked to my dad, her words just the lilting beauty of her voice, a work of tongue, lips and teeth.

She laughed at something dad had said, automatically making me smile at the sound. My gaze slid down her throat, thinking of how soft and warm her neck was.

Christian turned back to her plate, my eyes quickly leaving her, only to catch my mother's gaze. Mom said nothing, just looked at me, her head slightly cocked to the side.

I had nothing to say, so ate my dinner.


Mom and dad caught a cab back to their hotel, and Christian offered to walk with me to the train. We walked in silence for a couple blocks. I loved the look of the city at Christmas time, lights coming at you from every direction. Random windows shone down with glitter. My smile was soft, content.

"Your parents are wonderful people," Christian finally said, never taking her eyes from the sidewalk and streets before us.

"Yeah, they are. I miss them."

"I bet."

"They met here, you know," I explained softly, glancing at my walking companion. "Right here on the Broadway stage. They used to eat at Jerry's all the time, too. Guess most performers do, though," I said with a shrug. "Considering it's so close."


We stopped at the corner, waiting for the light to turn green, a myriad of different cars and SUVs passing with a cold rush of air. Christian tucked her gloved hands into the pockets of her jacket, and I brought my scarf a little tighter around my neck and chin.

I felt surprisingly comfortable around Christian as we walked, not feeling my usual need to fill silence with useless conversation. She seemed to enjoy the peace as well, inhaling all the sights and smells of the city.

"Would you like to meet Brutus?" she asked suddenly, glancing up at me.

"Uh," I stammered, taken aback by the non sequitur. "sure."

We stepped inside a huge, brick building on the corner across from a bagel shop, a few blocks from the subway station we'd arrived at. The elevator was old, with the steel mesh cage gate. Rising six floors, Christian pulled her keys from her pocket as she dug through the ring for the right one.

"Back, boy! Get back, Brutus." Christian grabbed the collar of a very large, very excited beast that some would call a bullmastiff. He whimpered, wanting his master's attention, little rivulets of drool linking him to the floor.

I couldn't keep the chuckle down. I watched in utter humor as Christian literally had to straddle the dog's back to keep him from pouncing. Arms wrapped around the immense neck, she grinned up at me.

"It's tough when your dog outweighs you by fifteen pounds."

"I imagine so." Stepping toward the brute, I knelt down, holding a hand out for him to sniff. I managed to keep my cringe under control as he drooled all over my hand, then reached up with his mammoth-sized head, tongue lashing me up the side of my face. I was thrown off balance by this, startled, and landed on my ass.

Christian was outright laughing at her dog's antics, meanwhile losing control of him. Before I knew what was happening, I was flat on my back, Brutus' massive paws on my chest as he licked my face and neck.

"Brutus!" Christian cried, her laughter making it difficult for her to pull the beast off me. She had him, then another burst of laughter exploded from her, making her lose control again.

"Ack!" I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to bury my face into my shoulder as the dog greeted me again with nice, big wet, sloppy kisses.

"I'm so sorry, Grey," Christian laughed, finally getting the brute off me. "I really am." She helped me to my feet, me trying to wipe all the drool and spit from my ears and face. "Hang on. I'll get you a towel."

Grimacing in disgust, I ran my hands through my hair, trying to get it out of my face, a few strands sticking to the drool on my cheek.

"I've been slimed," I muttered, running my sleeve across my face.


I turned to see Christian holding out a container of wet wipes to me. I quickly took them, going through four before I felt halfway clean again. I could still see the amusement in her eyes as she took the container from me.

"Again, I'm really sorry," she said quietly. "He's usually not that friendly right off the bat."

"What, does he usually wait the polite hour before mauling a victim?" I asked, my eyes twinkling.

"Depends on the visitor. Sometimes it's just fifteen minutes," she said, heading back into the kitchen, where the brute was happily munching on his dinner.

I kept in mind that there would be a nice, long, hot shower in my not too distant future, so I could deal with it. Suddenly the small apartment was brought to light, Christian walking back into the room. For just a moment I could imagine it had been her mere presence that had done it.

Looking around, I realized I was surrounded by boxes, the old, wood floors nearly empty of anything resembling furniture.

"I just moved in a few weeks ago. Haven't had the impulse to unpack quite yet," Christian explained with a small laugh. "I was living with someone who had all the furniture, so," she shrugged, looking around, hands buried in the back pockets of her jeans.

"Yeah. If Shane ever moved, I'd be stuck with a bed and a laptop." I grinned, so did she, looking down at her shoes. "The price we pay for living here, I guess."

"Yeah. This will be the first time I've had my own place in almost ten years," she said, looking around the room. There was nothing on the bare, white painted brick walls. "I've always moved around so much that I never really bothered. It certainly wasn't hard finding roommates."

"Yeah. I could see that. I remember stories from mom about the life of a dancer." I smiled nervously, suddenly feeling a bit of tension in the air. I walked over to the two large, arched windows that ran along the front wall of the apartment. Looking down at the street six stories below. I glanced at the building across the street, a smile crossing my lips.

"Some tree, isn't it?" Christian said softly, moving to stand next to me. I nodded, admiring the enormous Christmas tree that was placed in the window. "I watched them drag it up a week ago. Pretty amusing."

"Shane and I had fun with that, too."

"Your tree is up?" she asked, turning toward me, leaning her shoulder against the wall that separated the windows. She crossed her arms over her chest.

"Of course," I said, sounding insulted. "You have the privilege of talking to the biggest Christmas-loving kid in the entire country." I poked myself in the chest to emphasize my claim. Christian's eyes twinkled.

"Somehow I don't find that hard to believe."

"And you shouldn't. It's a wonderful time of year." I knew I was grinning like a fool, but I didn't care. I waited all year for this time of year, and wasn't embarrassed by that fact. When you let the kid in you die, you might as well keel over yourself.

"Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you with this drabness, then," Christian smirked, turning to look around her bare apartment.

"Eh, you just moved in. I'll forgive you this time. But next year," I let my sentence trail off as I waggled a finger at her. Her laughter was music to my ears. Now all I had to do was figure out how to make her do it more often.

"Would you care for something to drink?" she asked, pushing off the wall, walking back across the floor toward the kitchen. Brutus had made himself comfortable on an overstuffed pillow that had been tossed to the floor against the wall.

"Sure. What have you got?" I asked, nervous. She was offering me something to drink, so she must want me to stay for a few minutes. Oh happy day!

"Uh, not much I'm embarrassed to say." she admitted from behind the white fridge door. "Water, water, a wee bit of juice, and, insert drum roll here, water!" She peeked over the top of the door, a brow raised in question. I chuckled.

"I'm going to have to go with water there, Alex."

"Oh, but you must phrase that in a question." She grinned, hipping the door closed and walking over to me with a bottle of water in each hand.

"Oh, sorry. What is, the only thing Christian Scott has in her fridge at the moment, for two hundred."

She laughed again, handing me a bottle. "Cheers," she said, touching her bottle to mine before taking a small sip.

The ticking of Brutus' claws against the floor instantly put me on defense. Christian chuckled softly.

"I think you're okay, Grey. He's gotten over his initial obnoxiousness." True enough, the big dog came over to me, sniffing all around my shoes, up my legs, and finally looked up at me with huge, brown eyes, whimpering.

"What's up, big man?" I asked, transferring the water to my left hand and reaching down to rub him behind his ears with the other.

"Uh oh," Christian said, meeting my gaze with her own twinkling eyes. "you've done it now."

"I think I have," I laughed, the dog leaning his entire one hundred and thirty pounds against my leg. I had to brace myself in order to not be knocked over. He groaned deep in his throat as I dug in deeper with my fingers. "How long have you had him?"

"I got him days after I moved to the city. So, he's a big four year old boy."

"Yes, you are," I cooed, flopping his ear around. I could feel the heat of his panting scorching my thigh through the denim. A final pat to his head, I looked up at Christian.

"I should go. I have an early deadline Monday. I get to do research all day tomorrow."

"Okay." Christian walked over, grabbing Brutus' collar. "Come on, big boy. Let's let Grey leave." The bullmastiff groaned in irritation as he was pulled from me.

"He must make one hell of a guard dog."

"You have no idea." Christian laughed, rubbing the dog's head. "He's a good boy." She looked up at me. "Thanks for coming over, Grey. And thanks for bringing your mom to see me. It was a wonderful surprise."

"You're most welcome, Christian. It gave me an excuse to see Midnight Race again." With a wink I headed toward the door. Christian actually blushed!

"Well, I hope it wasn't too much torture to sit through again."

I chuckled, wondering what she'd think if she knew just how many times I'd already done just that.

Christian followed me to the door, her hands resting on it as I opened it. Stepping out into the hall, I turned to look at her. She looked back at me from where she leaned against the doorframe.

"Thank you for letting me meet the biggest dog ever created, and for the mini bath." I grinned. Christian briefly buried her face in her hands, then grinned up at me.

"I really didn't think he'd do that. Honestly."

"I know," I said softly, letting her off the hook. "Goodnight, Christian."

"Night, Grey. Good luck with your research."

I heard the door softly close as I walked down the hall.


There was spring in my step and song in the air as I strolled into work Monday morning. I turned on my computer with a flourish, did a little jig next to my desk, then headed into Dan's office.

"Jesus, Rickman. Did you eat a leprechaun for breakfast, or what? Soon I think you'll be farting rainbows."

"And wouldn't you dig through the stench for the pot of gold," I grinned, plopping down in a chair across from my editor, where he sat behind the big, messy desk.

"What do you got for me?" he asked, all business as he slid his reading glasses on.

"Welllll," I said in a sing-songy voice. He glared at me above the rims of the glasses, which I promptly ignored. "I found some more stuff on that Rose Henry story we'd thought about doing a few months back," I explained, tossing a few pages in front of him that I'd printed out.

"Okay. What's your angle?"

I spent an hour with my story editor, whistling as I headed to my desk. I sat in my chair, slowly rocking from side to side, eyes transfixed by my screensaver.

"Yah!" I jumped, getting to my feet and whirling, hand flying to my neck where lips had just been. Dawn stood there, eyes huge in stunned surprise. "Oh, Dawn. Shit. Sorry."

"Are you okay?" she asked, stepping around the chair that separated us.

"Yeah, you just startled me." I took a deep breath. "Hey." I allowed myself to be pulled into her arms. I felt sick to my stomach as I realized I hadn't thought about my girlfriend all weekend. "How was your trip?" I asked, pulling back.

"It was good. Ronnie looks good. I'm so glad we finally got my brother to go to treatment," she said, running her fingers through my hair.

"I am, too. That's great. Hopefully it'll work this time." I gave her the best smile I could manage. Dawn had been gone for a week, visiting her family and brother in Iowa for the holidays. I hadn't seen her in nearly three weeks, as she was in her "alone" period.

"Well, Grey I was wondering if I could take you to dinner tonight?" she asked, leaning back against my desk. I sat in my chair, rocking slightly.

"Yeah. That would be nice." I tapped my fingers nervously against my desk calendar.

"Okay. Well I have to go, and no doubt Dan already has you working on ten different stories at once." She grinned, then leaned down and kissed me on the lips. "See you tonight, baby," she murmured against my mouth.

"Kay," I agreed, feeing my body heat rising. It had been too long.


I laid back, body still pulsing. I felt the soft, curly brown hair against my shoulder as Dawn curled up against me.

A small smile lingered on my lips, the sweat on my body beginning to cool and dry. Damn, I had needed that. I hadn't had sex in almost a month, and Dawn certainly knew how to press my buttons.

Even so, as she touched me, my mind would begin to drift to another time, another bed, another woman. I'd shake myself out of it, but then those eyes would float before me again. I felt like a real ass when at one point Dawn had to ask if I was okay.

Turning, I glanced out the window, seeing the huge tree that was outside Dawn's bedroom window, the branches lightly scraping against the side of the building with the night wind. Taking a deep breath, I tried to focus on my relationship with Dawn.

We were apparently back to an "on" time. That was all great and good, and I'd enjoyed spending time with her tonight, as well as we had made plans for the week. But did I want to live my life by quotation marks?

I had much to think about, but laying in the dark with a warm, naked body against me wasn't the time. Who could think straight under those very trying circumstances?

Sighing heavily, I closed my eyes and let sleep take me.


Have you ever had a really great idea? I mean, an idea that's so great that when it hits you, you feel like the biggest genius on the planet?

Okay, so you have said Great Idea, and then you scurry around to carry Great Idea out. Alright. So now you've done all the work, are at the threshold of Great Idea, and then it all collapses around you. All you can do is stand there, wondering what you were thinking, and if Great Idea isn't actually the biggest bomb you've ever come up with.

Well, I was wondering just such a thing as I stood at the threshold of Christian's apartment door. My fingers flexed around the pot I held. Taking a deep breath, I knocked.

I half smiled, half cringed as I heard the deep, throaty bark of Brutus on the other side.

"Get back, boy," I heard from inside. My smile won out over my cringe at that, picturing the small woman trying to overpower the brute. I waited patiently as I heard the barking getting fainter, and then the removal of chains and locks.

When the door opened, my smile instantly widened by about a mile and a half. Christian gave me a surprised smile.


"Howdy." I held up my prize with pride, praying that Great Idea inspiration would strike again. "I bring you Sprout."

"Sprout?" she asked, though I could see the amusement in her eyes as she took in the little branch that was planted in a small, black pot.

"Yes, Sprout. I figured it was only appropriate since he was cut off Jolly Green."

"Jolly Green?" she said slowly, trying to follow my logic.

"Yes. He was my house warming gift from you, so it's only right that his son should be yours." I gave her my biggest, brightest smile. "And! There's more," reaching into my coat pocket, I pulled out the small, red satin-wrapped ball. Bending the hook just so, I pinched the thin metal around the little chute. "Merry Christmas."

Christian looked at me for a moment, as though she weren't sure what to say. She looked up into my face, slowly shaking her head.

"I think that's one of the most adorable things anyone's ever done for me," she said softly, her smile beginning in her eyes before it spread like a wave across her face. "Thank you, Grey."

"You're welcome," I said, suddenly feeling very shy indeed, hands clasped behind my back. "I'm sorry to just drop in on you, but uh, well, belatedly I realized I didn't exactly have a number to call."

"It's okay. I was just unpacking. Come in, please." She stepped back from the door, looking down at the plant she'd taken from me. Chuckling lightly, she walked over to one of the two arched windows, setting the little guy down on the ledge. "I'm sure Sprout will be very happy here." She arranged the pot just so.

"Someone told me that if you give the water a little milk now and then it works wonders," I supplied helpfully. She gave me a side glance.

"Wonder who told you such a crazy thing."

"Oh, I forget," I waved it off, smiling at the chuckle I heard. Looking around, I saw that indeed Christian had been busy. About half the boxes were gone, and a new bookcase was set up against a particularly bare wall, the five shelves about half full with books.

"So how did your research go?" Christian asked, walking over to the open box I assume she'd been working on when I arrived. I could hear Brutus whining from deeper in the apartment.

"It went great. Got that story done and am doing work on the couple hundred other ideas my story editor had for me."

"Gosh. Busy week." Christian began to load some dishes onto the bare boards that ran along the wall of kitchen.

"Always. Would you like some help, or I can simply get out of your hair-" I indicated the door with my thumb. Christian glanced over at me, the end of her ponytail whipping her in the cheek at the sudden movement of her head.

"No, not at all. Neither. Just talk to me," she said, unwrapping some glasses.

"Okay." Walking over to the kitchen, I leaned against the wall. "You know, you don't have to lock your dog up. I came prepared." I grinned patting my jacket pocket. Just the hint of a small forest of Kleenex could be seen. Christian laughed when she saw that, shaking her head.

"You're a crazy woman, Grey," she said softly, glancing at me before returning her attention back to her task.

"Yeah, well it's not a first for me to be called that."

"No doubt, and it's okay. Brutus was getting on my nerves anyway. He was trying to help unpack," she glanced over at the trash can where I could see the remains of a dish.

"Ouch. Tough break." I winced at my own stupid pun that I hadn't intended. Christian just shook her head, seeming amused at my cheesiness. What was it about this woman that turned me into a total moron? She was so bad for my reputation.

Deciding to let it go, I watched for a bit, moving the empty box out of her way once she'd taken out the last dish, then grabbed another, the word KITCHEN carefully stenciled across in black marker. Okay, okay, so unlike me, she's a practical packer.

Soon we had a smooth, efficient assembly line going. As soon as Christian was finished with her box, the next was slit open and ready for her. While she put away her dishes, she told me about some of the places she'd been, some off the stages she'd graced all over the world.

"I have to say, when I was in Rome, it was amazing to meet Sarah Brightman," she explained, stepping up onto a small plastic stepstool to reach the cabinet above the fridge. I stopped what I was doing, utility knife in hand.

"You like Sarah Brightman?" I asked, voice filled with all the wonder and admiration I had for the singer.

"Of course," she said, that same wonder filling hers. "I heard her for the first time when I was a little girl, singing 'Pie Jesu'-"


"Yes. Requiem." She smiled at my recognition of the song. "But the original version with Paul Miles Kingston."

"I know it well."

"I would listen to it over and over and over again," the softest smile of a precious memory brushed her lips. She stepped from the stool, tucking it back under the sink. I was surprised to hear her continue softly. "For a long time her music was my only constant."

Her voice was so soft, I wasn't sure if that was meant for my ears. I decided to let her expound if she wanted to. I knew nothing of Christian before she was twenty-two. I had no idea where she came from, where her family was. She wasn't all that forthcoming. When she added nothing more, I decided to ask some questions.

"Were you a Denver native, Christian?" I broke down the forth box, tossing it onto the pile with the others. She shook her head.

"No. I grew up in Sterling, with my grandparents." She moved around some glasses to fit the few coffee cups she owned onto the same shelf. "I used to ice skate up there."

"I love ice skating, though can't do it to save my life."

Christian grinned over at me. "Just dancing on blades." I raised a brow. "Right. Teddy bear girl."

I lowered my eyes, fully embarrassed, and still not knowing how the hell mom had gotten me to do that in front of Christian.

"Anyway, I met this man named James Dillon who was a coach. He thought I had some talent, so brought me to Denver when I was thirteen. We worked together for about three years until," she stopped herself, folding some dish towels before sliding them into the drawer. I looked at her, waiting for the rest of the story. "It didn't work out," she finally said quietly. "I stayed in Denver, turning my attention from ice skating to dance, which is what I loved about ice skating in the first place. I fell in love with it."

As I watched Christian work, I could feel a pallor wash over her, causing her to keep her eyes on her task, often her back to me.

I cleared my throat, determined to bring a smile back to her face. "Well, I was born right here in the Big Apple, rumored in the back of a yellow cab. I didn't start walking until I was two, before that I scooted on my diapered butt. I think it was then mom knew I would never be graceful on the stage."

I was thrilled to see a sparkle in her eyes as she glanced at me. I held up a hand.

"True story. We kept heading further and further west until dad fell in love with the Broncos, and wanted to be closer to his team."

Christian looked up at me, brows drawn. "You're kidding?"

"Yeah, actually I am." I chuckled as she rolled her eyes. "No, we ended up there because my parents wanted to get away from the business for awhile, and figured Colorado was about as far from the lights of Broadway as you could get. They were right, save for the Buell in downtown Denver.

"Eventually that nasty bug bite from their childhood rose again, and the scab was just too much of an itch temptation. They opened Rickman School of Dance not long after."

Christian nodded, taking in everything I'd just told her. Suddenly she turned to me.

"Have you had dinner?"

I have to say, I've never eaten dinner on the floor before, large pillows under our plates and watchful brown eyes in the corner. It was fantastic!

"Okay, so after college at CU, what then?" Christian asked, taking a bite of her chicken breast, grilled to perfection. Thanks go out to Mr. Foreman.

"Well, I got my degree in journalism, then got on at the Rocky Mountain News for a little while. I think I was there about three years when one day I get a call from Shane, begging me to be his roommate." I laughed at the memory. Green eyes opened wide.

"He wanted you to leave your job and move all the way to New York to be his roommate?" she was incredulous.


"Nice friend," she muttered, stabbing at her boiled carrots.

"The best," I agreed, getting a glare in return. "No, it's not all that bad. He knew I was really wanting to leave Colorado, but just hadn't quite gotten the gumption to make the break, and figure out where I wanted to go. So, New York seemed as good a place as any, and I could help him out." I sat back, resting on my hands. "Three years later, here I am."

Christian got to her feet, heading back into the kitchen for another bottle of water. I chewed on my lip as I waited for her to return, deciding on my next course of questioning. I would be going into some dangerous territory, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to.

"What?" Christian asked as she sat down, noting the look of deep thought on my face. I met her gaze.

"Why did you leave Denver when you did?"

Christian slowly twisted off the lid of her new water bottle, her eyes focused on her plate. I had the feeling she was thinking about her answer. Staying quiet, I finished scooping up the rest of my veggies with my spoon. When she finally started to speak, her voice was so soft, almost dream-like.

"When I first came to Denver, I was a young kid, full of so much expectation." She kept her eyes low. "I thought a whole new world would open up to me with Jim." Her laugh was biter, rueful. "Guess it was. It's not uncommon for an athlete to live with her coach, so we thought nothing of it." She sighed, finally meeting my gaze. "Jim Dillon taught me lots of things, and made me a better skater and dancer. But at a price."

I felt my stomach lurch, swallowing the bile. I nodded in understanding, not making her spell it out. Shrugging, Christian turned back to her dinner.

"I was sixteen, and had nowhere to go. I was too ashamed to go back home, and besides, I wasn't ready to give up on my dream. I walked into The Den one day, lied about my age, and was offered a job after a short audition. I knew I'd be taking off my clothes, but I didn't care at that point," her voice was wistful and filled with all the dreams of a young girl. "I'd be dancing." She played wither fork, the metal scraping against the plate, making us both shiver. "Sorry." Setting the fork down, she continued. "Eventually I was able to save up the money to start paying for legitimate lessons. I bounced around from school to school, realizing you get just what you pay for. So, I stopped for a year, deciding to save up for the expensive tuition of a reputable school." She gave the first genuine smile of the conversation. "Enter the Rickman School of Dance. I knew I'd get my money's worth there."

I leaned forward, transfixed by the soft tone of her voice as she told her story.

"My time with your mom's school was the best of my life up to that point. She made me feel like I had a chance, like I could really dance, and for the first time in my life, I felt like maybe, just maybe, I could go somewhere," she whispered, so much passion behind her words. "I felt beautiful." Her eyes flickered up to meet mine for just a moment, then quickly looked back to her plate. "Then I met Josh."

I sat back a little, nodding. "Yes. Josh."

"Well, you know how that turned out. I don't know," she sighed, looking up at me. "It was just time. I think he was the final straw for me. I had been with your mom's school for three months by then, and my tuition was coming to an end. I decided not to renew my contract, and move on. It was a good decision." She finished, her voice soft yet filled with the strength of a woman who had seen the world.

I lacked the courage to ask what was really on my mind, so I let it go.

"And how long do you plan to stay in New York?"

"As long as I can find work." She looked around the apartment, which was slowly showing the signs of a human inhabitant. "I like it here." She met my gaze. "I'm ready to find a home. At least one where my living room isn't in front of thousands of people. The stage will always be my true home."

"And rightly so." I leaned back on my elbows, ankles crossed. Staring up at the ceiling, I smiled. "I remember the first time I saw you dance. Remember it like it was yesterday, in fact."

My attention was brought up for a moment as music began to play. From this far back in the house it wasn't loud, but I knew it instantly. You couldn't live in a house full of dancers all your life and not know every single musical or piece of classical music created.


'Once Upon A Dream' from the musical Jekyll & Hyde began. Robert Cuccioli's strong baritone began, though it was soft and wistful. As I glanced back to my homework, I noticed the blonde making her way onto the stage, her hair seeming to glow under the intense lights.

Pencil beginning to tap in time with the slow, yet powerful song, I glanced up. The girl was dressed in a pair of trunks and sports bra, the kind that reach to mid-stomach. Looking at the girl, I knew she couldn't be in mom's ballet classes. Her body was all wrong for that; she looked to be fairly short, and her body was very muscular and compact- powerful. She didn't have the long, lithe bodies of mom's ballet girls.

Leaning forward in my seat, I watched her. She moved with an easy grace, belying everything I just said. Her flexibility was incredible, as was her balance. Pirouette after pirouette she did across the stage, perfect timing and form. From that she launched into a perfect jump, legs spread wide, landing with cat-like grace and silence.

I was captivated as the song moved to 'Dangerous Game', Linda Eder's sultry voice speaking of desires she dare not seek, but could not stay away from. Soon Robert Cuccioli's voice joined in.

The blonde's movements matched the sexy song perfectly, so aware of her body, and where it was on that stage. The girl's head thrown back, her hands ran down her own body before she threw her leg into the air, whipping around, then landing on her knees, upper body thrown back, hands running through her hair seductively.

I was transfixed, eyes glued to her every movement, every thrust, every counter thrust. She was incredible.

This song morphed into 'Confrontation', which in my opinion is one of the most powerful songs ever written for the stage. The intense words and music to back it up were caught in the girl's every move. She leaped through the air, seeming to have springs built into those incredible legs, landing on the bare tips of her toes, only to spin with dizzying speed and agility, never seeming to tire. Hell, I was exhausted just watching her!

As the song hit its climax, she was a blur of nonstop movement, her body flexing and unflexing, muscles bursting with use and the strength it took to launch her into the air over and over again. She had the jumping ability of many of the best male dancers.

I couldn't blink, couldn't breathe. Who was she? Why wasn't she gracing a stage in New York somewhere?

I realized that I had stopped talking, Christian staring at me, waiting. Shaking the dust of the past out of my head, I cleared my throat.

"You were dancing to a compilation you had done from Jekyll & Hyde. You were amazing," I said, my voice filled with reverence. "I hadn't seen anything like it, nothing that wasn't on a professional stage. I was completely at a loss as to why you were dancing in some school in Denver. This was where I thought you should be," I indicated the room around us. "Even then."

"You know, your mom once told me that you questioned her casting for that show. The only time you've disagreed with her."

For some reason I felt embarrassed, and turned my head away. "I felt you were too good to just be a background dancer."

"Thank you, Grey. That was sweet."

"Well," I said, grinning at her. "I don't know how sweet it was then, but true enough."

Christian looked down, but I could still see the smile that played across her lips. I couldn't help but wonder what memory or thought had sparked such a smile. Quickly it was gone, and she looked up at me, cocking her head to the side.

"Were you always a writer?"

"No," I said, shaking my head. I didn't discover that until a bit later." If only she knew it was because of her. I think I'll keep that little tid bit to myself. We were quiet for awhile, then I tilted my head in thought. "Christian?"


"How doesn't your ass freeze off on the ice in those little skirts?"


"Okay, now tell me how this makes sense," I said, indicating the screen. "she's like eighteen years old, and a welder? That takes training, time,-"


"- and, huh?" I met amused green eyes. "Sorry." Turning back to the movie, I crossed my arms over my chest, leaning further back into the couch. Christian munched her popcorn next to me, and I sipped from my bottle of Bud, resting the cold, glass bottle between my thighs. "Oh come on! How the hell can she afford that huge old warehouse? Can you imagine what it must cost to heat it?"

Suddenly the image of Jennifer Beals and her mammoth dog were frozen on the screen. I looked at Christian, who was aiming the remote at me, clicking one of the buttons.

"Which one of these will stop you?" she asked, brow raised. I ducked my eyes, glancing at her through my bangs. "You know, for being a writer, you suck at suspension of disbelief."

I couldn't keep the snicker down. I nodded, thoroughly chastised. "I'll be good." I turned back to the movie. I opened my mouth, taking a breath to speak when I felt eyes on me again. "What? I was just going to say I like this song." Christian turned back to the movie.

By the end of the flick I was dancing in my seat, silently cheering on Alex and her audition. I noticed that Christian's toe was a tappin', too.

"Woohoo, Alex!" I clapped as she ran out of her audition, all smiles, Nick waiting for her with red roses. Standing, I began to wiggle my ass next to the couch, body getting into the beat of the music playing during the credits. Christian watched from the couch, laughing her ass off. "Come on, Christian!" I cried, waving my arms in the air as I kicked out, missing Shane's naked man lamp by about two inches.

It only took two beats and a coaster flung off the coffee table by a wayward foot to get her up on her feet. She set the mostly empty bag of fat free, salt free and low carb popcorn aside. Kicking off her shoes, she joined me. I tried to keep up with her, but yeah, no.

Backing up toward the TV, I watched as Christian let her body flow with the music, all fun and games over. Even in the small confines of my living room, she was incredible, basically standing in one place, only twirling once, her back to me. She glanced at me, tossing a teasing look my way before she started making her way over to me.

"No, no, that's okay." I backed away further. She looked at me with those green eyes, a brow raised as she crooked a finger at me. Knowing I was going to lose this battle, I bopped my way over to her, feeling completely inadequate.

I felt her hands on my hips as her own hips swayed to the beat, her eyes gray in the light of the black screened credits, the only light on in the living room, giving everything an unreal, dreamlike glow and shadow.

"Come on, move your hips," she said softly, pressing her fingers into the body part for emphasis.

"Christian, you know I'm not a dancer," I stammered.

"So? I'm not a writer yet I manage to string words together. Try."

I nodded, willing to give it my best shot. I concentrated on the music, trying to get hold of it.

"Can you feel the beat?" Christian asked, moving with me. I nodded, unable to speak as I looked down into her eyes. "Good. Now move your feet a little bit, that's it. Good."

Before I realized it, Christian had moved us across the room, toward the kitchen. She brought her hands up to mine, which rested on her shoulders, bringing them to her hips, bringing her arms up around my neck.

"See?" she said softly. "It's not that hard."

"You make it easy," I smirked. She cocked her head, but said nothing. I could feel the brief touches of her body as we moved, our combined body heat swirling around us. Everything in the room slowly drifted away, leaving only her face, her eyes, looking into mine. Her warm touch around my neck, the rough denim of her jeans under my hands; that's all that mattered.

How did she do this to me again?

I looked into Christian's eyes, and nothing else mattered. The way she looked up at me, the gentle stroking of her fingers at the nape of my neck. God, she was beautiful.

The movement of our bodies began to slow, almost standing in one place, swaying together, my eyes never leaving hers. My arms slid around her back, Christian moving into my arms. Her own arms slid further up around my neck. I could feel her breasts brushing against mine, her warm breath on my face.

My heart was beating triple time as even our swaying began to slow. I could feel the heat of her body, almost scorching me.

"Jesus, why's it so dark in here, Grey?" Shane threw his coat onto the love seat, freezing mid-throw. He looked at us, and I could see the panic in his eyes. Without another word, he closed the front door then scurried off toward his bedroom.

I suddenly felt very cold as Christian stepped away, moving over to the couch. She cleared her throat softly as she sat on the end, pulling her shoes toward her.

Standing in the middle of the room, I felt confused, angry and incredibly turned on.

"So," I blew out, running a shaky hand through my hair. "Still up for Dirty Dancing?"

"Oh, uh, I should go." Christian tugged on one shoe, barely getting it tied before she grabbed the other one. "I have two performances tomorrow." Her voice was quiet. Though she tried to keep it upbeat, I could tell there was something terribly wrong. "I should get some sleep."

"Oh, yeah. That's got to be tiring," I muttered, walking over to the DVD player, taking Flashdance out of the player and sticking it back into its jewel case.

"Thank you for the movie, Grey," Christian said, standing. She grabbed her coat off the tree in the corner. "It was fun."

I turned to her, giving her the bravest smile I could, nodding. "It was fun. We should do it again sometime."

"Yes. We should."

"Well, um, are you going to be okay? Want me to call you a cab?" I took a step toward her, but Christian quickly threw her coat on, heading for the door.

"No, that's okay. I'm going to take the subway."

"Alright." I walked over to the door, careful to keep a respectable amount of distance between us. She looked up at me, a soft smile on her lips.

"Goodnight, Grey."

"Night, Christian."

I closed the door softly after her, leaning my forehead against it.

"I am so sorry, Grey. I didn't know," Shane said tentatively from the archway of the hall that led to our bedrooms.

"It's okay," I said with a deep sigh. "It was probably good you came in when you did."

"What's going on with you two, honey? You've been spending an awful lot of time together over the past couple weeks." He walked in further, guessing that if I hadn't beat him to death by now, I probably wasn't going to.

I shrugged, locking up for the night.

"Nothing. We're friends."

"Friends," he said, obviously not buying it for a moment.

"Yes. Friends."

"Well," Shane snorted. "I guess you guys did look pretty friendly." I glared at him. "Listen, honey, you two have major chemistry. Anyone could see that. It happened once-"

"That was in the past, Shane. We're different people now, in different circumstances. Besides," I added bitterly. "I have a girlfriend."

"That doesn't have to be so," I heard Shane say quietly as I headed down the hall to my bedroom. I wanted to sulk in private.


"Grey? Honey, what is it?"

I looked up, ripped from my thoughts. Dawn's brown eyes looked into mine, brow wrinkled.


"Where are you? Do want to talk?" She reached across the table, covering my hand with hers, squeezing my fingers slightly.

"Oh. Sorry." I turned back to my dinner, but her second squeeze brought my eyes back to hers.

"Talk to me. You've been distracted and aloof all week. What's going on?"

I chewed on my lip, deciding what I wanted to do. Finally I decided I needed some answers.

"Dawn, do you like me?"

"What?" Clearly not expecting that question, Dawn looked at me as though I'd grown a third head.

"I mean as a person," I clarified. I would have laughed at the expression on my girlfriend's face if hadn't been so serious.

"Of course I do. What kind of question is that?" She set her fork down, obviously getting ready for a discussion.

"So I'm likeable. Am I loveable?"

"Jesus, Grey. Where is this coming from?"

I sat back in my chair, taking my hand from Dawn's, and crossing my arms over my chest. "Yes or no."

"Honey, I, yes. Yes you are loveable."

""We're on an 'on' period right now, right?" I saw Dawn's jaw set slightly as she figured out where I was going with this. She hated these talks, and it was usually pretty difficult to get any sort of concrete answer from her. She nodded her head, a curly strand falling into her eyes. Swiping at it, she mirrored my position. Both of us closed off- not good. "What constitutes an 'on' or 'off' or 'alone' or 'I feel like spaghetti' or-"

"Don't make fun, Grey. This isn't funny."

"No, it isn't. Why do you need all these layers? Why do you need all these rules in our relationship, Dawn?" I looked her in the eye, my own pleading. "Is there somebody else?" At her silence I continued. "Please just tell me."

Dawn sighed heavily, shaking her head. "No, Grey, there isn't." I believed her. "It's difficult and complex-"

"So help me to understand. I think I'm entitled." I made myself unfold my arms, resting one casually over the back of the chair I sat in, the other resting on the table. I wanted her to feel as comfortable as possible so she'd be open with me. It worked, as I noticed her own body language slowly opening up.

"Okay," Dawn said, her voice resigned. "Here's the thing, Grey," she sat forward in her seat, hands clasping on the table as she nudged her plate aside. "You are filled with so much. So much love and life. You have so much to give."

I stared at her, wondering just where the bad in this was.

"I don't know how to handle it." She looked into my eyes, pleading for me to understand. Not getting anything from me, she continued. "Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with it, Grey. I have to take a step back to regroup. I just don't," she sighed. "I just don't think I'm at a point in my life where I want that much love focused on me. That spotlight can be pretty intense sometimes."

I looked at her, trying to absorb what she had just said, translate it in a way I could understand.

"I smother people!" I sobbed, burying my face in my hands.

"Honey, wait, what are you talking about?" Shane said, his arm around my shoulders. I fell into him, my face going to the warm spot on his neck that I loved to much. "What happened?"

I sniffled a few times, trying to get myself under control to talk to him. I stayed against him, but took several deep breaths.

"Me and Dawn just broke up," I said quietly. I could feel Shane's large hand massaging my shoulder. "She said I overwhelmed her with all I had to give, or something like that." I felt the hot sting of tears again.

"Oh, sweetheart." Shane squeezed me tighter, kissing the top of my head. "You know that's been in the works for a long time, Grey," he said, his voice soft and soothing. "She never deserved you."

I pulled away, bringing pathetic eyes up to meet his. "Really?"

"Yeah, really." He smiled at me, so handsome. I couldn't help but give him a watery smile back.

"Thank you, Shane."

"And she's right, you know."

I looked at him, eyes wide as new tears began to make them shine. "You think I smother?"

"No! Oh, honey, no." He pulled me close again, trying to stave off the new watershed. "No. You have so much inside you, Grey," he said softly, fingers once again finding the sore spot in my shoulder and upper bicep. "You are the warmest, kindest, most loving person I've ever met, Grey."

"Then why doesn't she see that?" I whispered. Shane was quiet for a moment, then I heard a soft chuckle.

"We're not talking about Dawn anymore, are we?" he asked. I said nothing. "Honey, I'm going to tell you something, and I hope you won't get mad. You know when you were at that itsy bitsy little paper in Denver, and I called you up, begging you to be my roomy?"


"Grey, honey, I didn't need a roommate," he admitted softly. I pulled away, confused.


Shane smiled, shaking his head slowly. "I missed you. Your friendship and love has always been such a warm blanket for me, sweetheart. My blankly," he grinned, and I couldn't help but grin back. "I love you, Grey, and you need to know that if Christian can't see all that you are, then it's her loss."

"This isn't about Christian," I muttered stubbornly.

"Isn't it?"

I didn't respond. Shane leaned back into the couch, pulling me with him. My head rested on his chest, my arm draped over his stomach. He leaned his cheek against the top of my head.

"You really don't think I smother?" I whispered, my rejection level at an all time low.

"No, sweetheart. I don't. I think you're wonderful, and my best friend."

"I love you, too, Shane."

"Wanna watch Bound? Get your Jennifer Tilly's breasts fix?" he murmured into my hair. I nodded. "Okay. I'll even make you nachos."



The night was cold, snow blowing in. I pulled my coat further around me, tugging the collar of my pea coat up to cover my ears. I couldn't help but squint at the blowing sleet and snow. Times like this I definitely wished I still had my car.

I nearly jumped out of my skin at the blaring of a car horn, then the bone-chilling crunch of metal crashing into metal. Okay, maybe I was glad to be walking.

I looked at the old, brick buildings all around, e their beautiful old architecture always making me smile. The arched doorways and windows, molding around the ledges of the higher floors. Truly beautiful. And though it was cold, the snow made it all the more wondrous for me.

Though Christmas was over, lights still lit the windows and doorways, trees glowing with little golden twinkles. If Shane would let me, I'd keep our Christmas lights up all year, only those illuminating on a dark night.

My thoughts turned to Christian. It had been a week and a half since we had danced in my living room. I hadn't seen her, keeping my distance. She had called and left a message on my work phone yesterday. She wanted to know if I was up for dinner sometime.

When exactly was sometime? Kind of like they. Who was that? What did they want? Anyway, so tonight I was out in this weather, headed to the theater.

People walked by me, most not giving me a passing glance. I noticed all of them, though. People fascinated me, the way they dress, the way they talk or interact with each other. Why some people walk with a look of utter determination in their eyes, like their very lives depended on whether they made the next corner in three point two minutes. Then still others walked along without a care in the world, hands tucked in their pockets, eyes casually looking around. Man, I got all day to get where I'm going.

I smiled at those thoughts, the light of the Majestic coming into view. I saw people dressed for a night on the town, exiting, heading down the street, or stepping into waiting cars or taxis. Then I saw the one I was waiting for.

Christian was pulling on her right hand glove as she stepped out onto the sidewalk, her first breath instantly crystallizing before it left her lips.

"Hey, you." I stepped into the light. She looked at me, her smile instant.

"Hey. What are you doing here?"

"I thought I'd take a hungry girl to dinner. I mean, my gosh, after all that exercise, you've got to be about ready to eat your tights."

Christian's laugh came out in a puff of steam. She threaded her arm through mine, my hand tucked into my pocket.

"Where to?" she asked.


"Sounds great."

We walked in companionable silence. Hell, I was just glad to be with her again. Even through thick layers of both of our jackets and clothes, I could still feel her body heat against my arm, her presence and nearness.

I felt her eyes on me, and glanced down. Sure enough, that sure, steady gaze, doted with a smile when she saw she had my attention.

"What?" I asked, holding the door of Jerry's Deli open for her. She shook her head.

"Nothing. Thank you." She stepped in front of me, the door slowly whooshing shut behind us. We found a table, marked by our coats, and headed back up front to order. As we waited in line, I turned to her.

"How was the show?"

"It was good. Had a bit of an emergency in the audience halfway through the first act."

"Oh, yeah? What happened?" I took a couple steps forward as the line moved.

"A woman had a seizure. We had to stop the show so they could get the paramedics in there."

"Was she okay?" I grabbed us both a set of silverware and napkins. Handing Christian hers, she quietly thanked me then continued.

"I think so. Not sure. The show must go on." She smiled.

The conversation was smooth, never faltering. I began to feel a double whammy of emotions. Part of me was so relieved to know that our growing friendship was fine and back on track, and I realized just how much I had missed her. The second emotion wasn't so oogly googly. I felt sad. So sad that what had happened, well, what I felt had happened between us that night, seemed to either not have happened at all, or hadn't mattered.

"So you don't get to see your brother and his family very often at all, do you?" Christian asked as we made our way toward her building. I shook my head. "That is the problem with working internationally. You get to see so much, but you pay for it, too."

"Yeah. He started out dancing for a Canadian company when I was still in high school, then moved on to bigger and better things. But," I held an excited finger up. "He, Melanie and the boys are coming home for a visit in February."

"Are you going to go home to see him, or is he coming here?"

"No. I'm flying back home to spend some time with them."

"How wonderful for you!" Christian smiled up at me, walking over to the line of mailboxes inside the lobby of her building. I watched as she unlocked the small door, then reached inside to grab her mail.

"I'm excited. Should be a great trip."

Seated on the wood framed futon I'd helped Christian drag in here, we watched a re-run of King of Queens, both laughing heartily at the antics on the show.

I noticed when Christian had invited me up, no movies had been mentioned, only to see what was on TV. No doubt she felt it was safer that way. Or maybe I was reading into things. Again. Sometimes being an emotional, read-between-the-lines woman sucked.

Just when that whole litany of thought had marched across my brain, she turned to me.

"Have you seen Chicago?"

"And miss the six merry murderess'?" I asked with a quirked brow. Christian chuckled.

"God forbid. Well, would you like to watch it again?" she asked, half rising from her set at the end of the couch.

"Hell, yeah!"

She hurried over to the TV, doing what she needed to do. I watched her, sitting back on her haunches as she grabbed the movie from her small collection. Her hair was down, flowing down her back in a golden wave. I could see just the barest bit of the skin of her back between the hem of her shirt and waistband of her jeans. The shirt rode up a couple inches more as she stood, then fell back into place, just kissing her waistband.

I averted my eyes quickly as she turned to heard back to the couch. I did my best to keep my mouth shut during this movie, where I normally would have drooled all over Renee Zelwegger and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I couldn't help my comments during my favorite number, though. Those women were so sexy as they explained their most unfortunate crimes during the Cellblock Tango.

"I would have loved to be in this show," Christian said at length, surprising me. I had discovered that talking during movies was not her forte.

"I bet you would have been wonderful in it. Who would you want to play?" I asked, running my arm along the back of the futon.

"Oh, Roxie Hart, no question." She glanced over at me, then turned back to the movie, the little blonde murderess wondering why no one wanted her picture after the end of the court trial.

"I could so see that. I think you would be perfect."



Two movies later, I glanced over, Christian's head still resting against my shoulder. Her eyes were closed, breathing even and slow. I brushed a few strands of her long hair from her face, gently tucking it behind her ear. Green eyes slowly opened, unfocused for a moment before she took in her surrounds, then closed her eyes again.

"Movie over?" she mumbled. I smiled.

"Yeah. Has been for a little while now." I kept my voice gentle and soft, not wanting her to wake or move.

"Sorry. Should have told me," she whispered, getting more comfortable against me.

"Why don't you get some sleep, Christian, hmm?" I ran my fingers through her hair, so soft against my fingers. She smiled, eyes still closed. She looked just like an angel.


I chuckled, gently pulled away and getting to my feet. Christian opened heavy eyes again, looking up at me.

"Come on, Twinkle Toes," I whispered. "Let's get you to bed."

Brutus lifted his head from his pillow in the corner, quickly falling back asleep with a deep groan. My arm around her waist, I helped Christian to her feet, then to her bedroom. The light from the doorway shed a long, rectangle of light into the otherwise dark bedroom. I spotted the large bed, and helped her to it. She sat heavily on the end, and I quickly went to work, removing her shoes, then bringing the covers down.

I think Christian was entirely too tired for her own good as she stood, tugging on her button flies, the jeans falling to her ankles. With tired, shaky legs, she stepped out of them, leaving them where the fell.

It took everything I had to make myself turn away, giving her the privacy she deserved. Christian stumbled to the side of the bed, crawling on it. I helped her, lifting the covers for her to crawl under. When her head hit the pillow, green eyes closed again.

I tucked her in, then leaned down, kissing her softly on the forehead. "Goodnight, Christian," I whispered, caressing the side of her head.

"Mm. Feels good. Night." And with that, she was gone.

I looked down at her, feeling a fresh wave of feeling wash over me. Walking out of her room, I slowly pulled the door shut, waiting until it quietly clicked home.


The next three weeks were the best and worst of my life. If I wasn't at Christian's place, she was at mine. We laughed, we talked, we made plans for future events. Shane had completely fallen in love with the little blonde, and it wasn't hard to see why, nor was he the only one. She had proven herself to be a wonderful friend, and had a sense of humor that was entirely too wicked for her own good.

It was happy times.

Then why did my heart hurt so much? Shane kept telling me I needed to talk to Christian, to be honest with her and tell her how I felt. I didn't agree. Nothing had happened since that would lead me to believe that Christian saw me as anything more than a trusted friend, nor wanted to. I knew she'd had so few of those in her life, and I just didn't have the heart to take that away. I didn't want her to think that I was just another wolf in the pack who wanted something from her. She'd had enough of that.

Or was I just being a coward?

So instead, here I sat, curled up on the couch, laptop sitting forgotten on my thighs. I'd been sitting here for over an hour, my mind somersaulting over the situation, filled with so much uncertainty. This whole thing made me feel like that gawky seventeen year old girl again, and that was a place I just didn't want to go.

Christian was at a cast party tonight. The three month run of the show meant that some of the cast members wouldn't be returning for the next three month stint, so it was a celebration of sorts, of a job well done.

Christian had invited me to go with her, but I didn't feel it was right, or that I belonged there. See, told you I felt like that seventeen year old girl.

It was beginning to hurt to be with her, yet there was no way in hell I could stay away. I was also beginning to wonder if it was all worth it. Was it worth it for me to put myself through this, to literally pine away for what would never be, all just to have Christian in my life?

At one time there would have been no question. Now? I just didn't know anymore. It was also getting harder to keep my true feelings to myself, and not touch her, not look at her with the gooey, adoring eyes that I knew were there. Too many times I had nearly slipped, calling her sweetie or baby, which were decidedly un-friend like.

In short, I was having to hide a part of myself that was growing more and more by the day. One night last week I had even had to feign being sick just so I could go sit on the cold tile of Christian's bathroom for fifteen minutes to stop me from doing something stupid. Everything involving her was a test of my will power, and it was quickly becoming a losing battle.

Closing my lappy, I set it aside and walked to the window. The rain was still beating down on the night, fat drops pelted against the glass to splatter in colorful prisms.

I was glad to be heading home this weekend. My brother and his family had arrived today, and I was beside myself to see them. Not only that but it would be good to get some distance between me and the situation for a few days.

Turning away, I walked over to the coat tree, grabbing my pea coat. Sliding my arms into the sleeves, I tucked my keys into my pocket, and headed out. I wasn't entirely sure where I was headed, just that the apartment felt so small and suffocating tonight.

The streets were fairly empty of foot traffic, though cars still plowed through the deepening puddles. More than once I'd found my pant legs washed with gutter water.

Hands jammed into my pockets, I could feel the cold rain seeping down the back of my jacket, stunning the back of my neck and upper back with its chilled knife droplets. I hurried down the stairs to the subway, running a hand over my hair, smoothing it back from my face. I knew I looked like a drowned rat, but I didn't care. I needed to breathe, needed some air and space.

Riding the train, I watched my fellow travelers, each looking just as drowned as I. Resting my head against the glass behind me, I sighed, running a mental list of things I needed to take with me to Denver, and just how badly I was going to spoil my nephews once I got there. That last thought was the first one of the night to make me smile.

I was saddened to see the windows darkened, no more lights, no more Christmas. Guess it was February, after all. But I still missed it.

Looking around, I realized I was on the corner of Franklin and Murphy. Staring down the darkened street, I saw the bagel shop, OPEN sign lit in blue neon half a block away.

Realizing where I was, I felt my chest expand, heart pounding. I began to jog, my boots splashing in the rain water that pelted the sidewalk. Then I was in a run, arms pounding through the air, lungs seizing with the fire of exertion. Closer and closer, just three buildings down, across the street, avoid the pile of muddy doggy poo, and I was there.

I stared up at the building that I knew as well as my own, and the brightly lit windows six stories above.

"Christian!" I yelled, shocked to hear my own voice cry out. "Christian!"

A few silhouettes appeared in random windows in the building. I watched, my heart seizing when I saw an arched window on the sixth floor open.

"Grey?" Christian called down. "What are you doing down there? Come up."

"I'm in love with you!" I called out, the words just slipping from my mouth.

"What?" she called back, leaning slightly out of the window.

"She's in love with you!" someone from another window helpfully supplied. Christian stayed where she was for a moment, then disappeared inside, her window slamming shut.

My stomach was roiling. I had no idea why I had done or said that. I could run now, claiming later that I had been drunk and not in charge of my facilities later. That idea seeming a better and better idea. I turned to start booking it when I saw the door to Christian's building open, the blonde stepping out onto the stoop.

I felt my heart hitch as she stood there, her face lost in the shadows from the intense light shining directly down on her.

Slowly she walked toward me, the rain immediately turning her hair dark blonde, pasting the strands to her head and face. Finally my body got unstuck, and I met her halfway, me on the street, Christian at the curb.

In for a penny…

"I'm so in love with you, Christian," I said. "I have been for a very long time." A smile spread over my lips, part nerves, and part exhilaration. I finally said it!

Christian looked up at me, her eyes looking so confused, like there was something to say behind them that I was unable to read.

"Grey," she began, her head shaking slowly. "I, I just don't know what to say." My smile began to fade, a huge lump forming in my stomach, and rising to my throat. "I just don't know,"

I began to back away, nodding, completely understanding the situation. God, why didn't I know this would happen?

"Grey wait." She took a step toward me, but I couldn't take it, couldn't take that goddamn look of pity in her eyes. "Wait!"

I felt the rain stinging my face as I ran, my jacket flying out behind me like a cape. If only it were and I could take off, fly to a distant land or planet; anything to escape this pain and humiliation. I knew I was crying, even before I heard the sobs themselves.

Somehow I made it home, flipping my phone open the minute I walked into the door. I talked to the airline as I rushed into my room, throwing things from my closet onto the bed. Flipping the phone shut after I'd turned it off, I drug my over-sized duffel bag from under the bed, and began to load it.

Scribbling a quick note to Shane, I headed out, hailing a taxi.

"La Guardia," I said.


I watched my parents' dogs playing in the yard, tromping through the remnants of last weekend's snow. My arms crossed over my chest, I sighed heavily.

"Grey, honey. Here, love." Mom moved up behind me, one warm arm around my shoulders, the other hand filled with a mug of hot coffee.

"Thanks, mom." I said quietly, taking the coffee. She rested her chin on my shoulder from behind. I had shown up on their doorstep at four this morning, and hadn't said a word yet as to why I'd shown up three days early.

"Honey, I don't know what happened, but whatever it is, and whenever you're ready to talk, we're here, okay?"

"Thank you." I allowed myself to be enveloped in a warm hug, and with a kiss to my cheek, mom was gone, leaving me with my thoughts.

My thoughts. What a bad lot that was. I had six hours to think about everything, to mull it over, kick myself in the ass, beat myself up, cut my own damn head off. How could I have done that?

I felt a tear slowly sneak its way out of my right eye, followed closely by one out of my left. My eyes were already stinging and red from the first go round.

"Hey, sport."

I turned from the window at the sound of my father's soft voice. He sat in his chair, that smile on his face the melted my defenses every time.

"Daddy," I sobbed, setting my coffee cup down as I hurried over to him. He engaged the lock on his chair and held out his arms. In two point three seconds I had curled up in his lap, his strong arms wrapped around me. He let me cry, soothing my heart with his soft, kind words and hands on my back.

"What's happened to my girl? What's turned my Grey blue?" he whispered into my ear, kissing the side of my head. I smiled at the familiar old joke.

"I'm a fool, dad," I sniffled. "Such a fool."

"What happened?"

Finally I pulled back, wiping my eyes with my sleeve. Dad smiled then pulled out his hankie. I think he was one of the only men on the planet under the age of seventy who carried one. I took it, wiping my eyes and blowing my nose.

"I fell in love with Christian," I said softly. "Again." He raised a brow at that, but I said nothing. He waited for me to continue. "I'm a real dumbass, Dad. Last night, I don't know what came over me. But I went out walking, in the rain," I chuckled at my own antics. "I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when I ended up at her place." I sighed. "I told her."

He held me as I began to cry again. He must have gathered what happened after that by my most notably negative reaction.

"She's the fool, love," he whispered into my hair. "It's going to be okay, my girl. I promise you it will. Your heart will mend, Grey, and you'll be so much stronger for it."

"Why do I keep doing this, Dad?" I asked, feeling so drained as I rested my head against his shoulder, the warmth of his neck against my forehead.

"Why do you keep doing what?"

"Falling on my face."

"Because it makes a much better catcher than your ass." He squeezed me playfully. I smiled. "You live by your heart, love. You always have. You're a passionate woman, Grey. Come by it pretty darn naturally, too. Unfortunately for someone so passionate, and filled with love, you feel the need to share that love and passion with the world. It makes you a wonderful person, creative, warm and kind, but sadly there are some who will take advantage of that in you. They take what they want, and trip you up with the rest. Thus, landing on your face."

"How do I harden up? I'm so tired of hurting," I whispered.

"Don't ever harden up, love. That tenderness in you is what makes you so special. My special girl."

"Thanks, Daddy." I always seemed to revert to a ten year old when in my father's arms. He kissed my head, and hugged me tight before letting me go. I pulled away, looking at him with my sad, watery eyes. He smiled, reaching up to push my hair out of my face.

"Why don't you go spend some time with your brother and nephews," he suggested, brushing some hair back from my face. I nodded.


The days were busy, reacquainting myself with a brother who had not been in my life consistently for fifteen years. Brian and I had never been exactly close, but it was great to see him, and I thought Melanie was one of the most beautiful, sweetest people I'd ever met.

Then there were the boys.

Six years old and smart as a whip. They had the dark hair of their father and the eyes of my mother and I. Basically they looked like they could be my twins.

Do you have any idea how tiring it is to be a human jungle gym for two very determined six year olds? They had me sleeping like a baby by nine o'clock. The greatest thing about all their attention was I didn't have time to think.

Now, Monday night, and the eve of my return to New York, I laid in bed with nothing but thoughts running through my head. I actually felt a bit sick to my stomach when I thought of returning. I had kept my phone off during my entire trip, but had called Shane. He asked few questions, just enough to fill in the blanks of my note. I was happy as he promised a good dinner at Harpy's when I got back.

What about Christian? I had to stay strong, and learn to un-shape my life around her. I had done it for the past thirteen years, I could do it again. In all my thirty years, the dancer had only been part of about seven months. Yeah, I could learn to live without her.


It had been wonderful to see Shane's big welcoming smile and hug at the baggage claim. He had squeezed enthusiastically, lifting me off my feet. After I was able to breathe again, I grinned at him.

"Hey, boy. How are you?"

"I'm fantastic, of course," he said, taking one of my bags from me. "The apartment was so quiet and peaceful." He sighed in contentment. I smacked him in the arm.

"Shit, you'd be lost without me."

"Yeah, basically."

I was quiet as we made our way through the airport, heading toward the parking area where Shane had parked the car he'd borrowed from his co-worker, just for this trip.

"It was cold. Rained with those lovely little ice daggers," he said, scrunching his face. I chuckled.

"Oh, darn. So bummed I missed that." I shivered as the cold air hit me. I was always so amazed at the differences between the dry cold of Colorado and the humid cold of New York.

"Over here, hon." Shane led us to a black Lincoln Navigator. Opening up the back, we piled my bags inside, then climbed in ourselves, Shane immediately getting the heat going. "Brr." He rubbed his hands together, then got us moving.

As he drove through the busy traffic, I glanced at him, but quickly turned back to my window. I wanted to know if Christian had called or come by over the weekend, but knew that if I asked, it would blow my new resolve. I stayed quiet, instead perking to life when Shane asked me to recount my trip.

"You would not believe how tall those boys are going to be," I said, pushing the apartment door open, hand blindly reaching inside for the light switch. Feeling that it was already clicked on, I grabbed my bag I'd set down to unlock the door, and headed inside.

"Well, duh! Your entire family is filled with mini mountains." Shane followed me in, setting down my duffel by the end table.

"Yeah, well-" I stopped, frozen in mid-sentence. Rising from the couch across the room was Christian. She looked at me, her expression tense and nervous.

I looked to my roommate, seeing if he saw what I saw. By the look on his face, not only did he see what I saw, but he had let her in.

My eyes turned to the dancer again, seeing that she'd taken a step forward. Turning, I headed for the door, stopping in front of who I thought was my friend.

"I will never forgive you for this," I hissed, then hurried past him.

"Grey!" I heard called behind me, but I didn't care. I was in a blind rage as I hurried down the hall, headed toward the elevator. I heard someone running behind me, but only cursed as I punched the down button for a second time. "Grey, stop, please."

I could feel the muscles in my jaw working as I knew it was Christian who stood a few feet away. I couldn't look at her, instead my eyes hitting the floor.

"Please, Grey. Come home with me. We need to talk." I could hear the pleading in her voice, but was doing my level best to ignore it. I glanced at her, and could see the pleading in her eyes, which were red. "Please. I'm begging you." She looked as though she were about to take a step forward, but stopped, unsure. With a loud sigh, I nodded.

Shane gave us the keys to the Navigator, Christian making her way through the streets. We both remained absolutely silent during the short ride. I could feel my heart threatening to burst through my chest, my stomach flexing in sympathy.

Parking in the underground garage down the street, I followed Christian to her building, passing as she held the door to her apartment open for me.

"Hey, boy!" I greeted the huge dog, who's backside looked like it would wag right off. He and I had become great friends, and it took all my strength to not be bowled over by him. Eventually he left me to greet his mom, and follow her to the kitchen for his dinner time.

I looked around the apartment I knew so well. Walking over to the window, I smiled small as I looked down at the plant I'd brought so many weeks ago. It had rooted well, and was already growing. To my surprise the red Christmas ball had been replaced by a pink heart. Well, I guess Valentine's day was around the corner.

Bah humbug.

"Would you like something to drink?" Christian asked, standing not far behind me. I shook my head, turning to face her. With a small nod of acceptance, she grabbed my hand, which I nearly pulled from her grasp. She seemed to sense this, her grip tightening as she led me to the couch.

I sat down, crossing my one remaining arm across my lap. I felt so vulnerable, and needed all the protection I could get. I had no idea what she had to say, but wanted to throw up.

Christian held my hand in both of hers now, and she studied them for long moments. Her face was hidden by the golden curtain that fell. I threw thoughts of brushing it all aside out of my mind.

"I want to start by saying that I really missed you these last five days," she said softly, her thumb lightly brushing the back of my hand. I said nothing. This was her show, and I was going to let her run it. Besides, I worried that if I opened my mouth, my earlier wish to throw up would come to fruition. "Grey," she said, but stopped herself, seeming to think about what she was going to say. "My sexual history started young, and it was filled with demands and obligation. Then my job was filled with demand and obligation."

As Christian paused, her hands opened mine, turning it palm up. She lightly traced a soft fingertip across my life line.

"As I got older," she continued, her voice even softer. "my body began to be the one that was demanding. I would find someone during the run of a show to satisfy that demand, then move on after the final curtain call." She looked up at me finally. "You didn't give me a chance Wednesday night, Grey. I was stunned by what you said, that's no secret. But you didn't give me a chance."

I could only stare at her, my heart still beating wildly. I wondered if she could feel the sweat covering my palm. I didn't say anything, waiting breathlessly for her to continue. I needed this torture to end.

"I've only made love once, Grey." She looked into my eyes, searching. As I looked into hers, I saw it. My eyes fell, the sting of tears fresh, relief and disbelief filling me. She placed her hands on either side of my face, pulling my head gently into her chest. "I love you." She caressed my hair, tenderly running her fingers through it.

My tears were short lived as I got my emotions under control. God, it felt incredible to be held by her. My arms wrapped around her waist, and I scooted back a bit, exhaustion from the emotional turmoil of the past few days catching up with me. I laid my head in her lap, feeling her fingers continuing to run through the dark strands of my hair.

"I love you, too," I said, curling my legs up. She bent over me, hugging me to her.

"Please say it again, Grey," she whispered.

"I love you." I turned my head so I could look up into her eyes as she looked down at me. "I always have." Her eyes fell closed, a small sigh escaping her lips. When she opened her eyes, I noticed they were a bit too shiny.

"Let's go to bed," she said, caressing the side of my face. "The last few days have been trying for both of us."

I nodded, suddenly wanting nothing more than to hold her all night. I got to my feet, pulling her to hers. Immediately she tucked herself against me. My eyes closed as my arms wrapped around her, holding her tight, safe and loved. I could feel her warm breath against my neck for a moment, then it was gone.

Christian met my eyes, her hand coming up to rest against my cheek. My eyes closed as she neared, her lips touching mine. It was a soft, promising kiss. Her lips moved against my mouth, tongue lightly playing. We both understood this wasn't about passion, it wasn't the right time. It was about rediscovering each other. I met her kiss, my hands running gentle circles across her back, the backs of my fingers coming up to caress the side of her face and neck.

The kiss broke as softly as it had started. Christian took my hand in hers, and without a word, we turned out the lights on the way to bed.

Stripping down to t-shirt and underwear, I climbed under the covers, barely able to keep my eyes open. Christian followed, moving over to me. She lifted my arm, easing her head onto my shoulder, my arm closing around her. She tucked her hand under my side opposite from her and sighed deeply.

"I love you, Grey," she whispered, followed by a small chuckle. "I've never really said that before."

"How does it feel?" I whispered back, kissing the top of her head.


"Good. And I adore you." I squeezed her tighter, grinning like a fool as she snuggled in ever closer.

"Goodnight, Grey."

"Night, Christian."

As my heart and breathing began to calm, I felt my world right itself. I'd been a fool to think I could live without Christian in my life. There was no way. How can you live without your heart?


I smiled with a contented sigh. I had the most wonderful dream last night. She told me she loved me.

One eye peeked open, reality slowly dawning on me, as well as the bright morning sunlight. Turning to my left, I saw golden hair splayed out across the pillow. Slow, even breathing moving the back presented to me.

It happened. It actually happened. Everything came back to me: flying home, talking with Shane, promising to never forgive him. And Christian. I owed Shane a huge apology.

Turning to my side, I scooted up behind Christian's small body, pressing my front to her back, inhaling the fragrance of her hair, and wrapping my arm around her. Christian mumbled something unintelligible in her sleep, snuggling back into me. My smile was unstoppable at that cute little maneuver.

I wanted to fall back asleep, still feeling tired and drained, but at the same time not wanting to miss a minute with her. My exhaustion won out. Soon I was surrounded by sweet peace.


A small moan escaped my throat as I felt it again, bringing me further to the surface of consciousness. Moving my head to the side, I heard a soft chuckle, warm lips exploring more of my neck.

"Good morning," was whispered in my ear.

"Morning," I purred back, hands coming up to rest on Christian's back. She slowly moved her body over to cover mine. Her weight and warmth felt so wonderful.

"How'd you sleep?" she asked, leaving a trail of light kisses along my jaw.

"Never slept better. I thought I was dreaming."

"No dream."

Christian worked her way up my cheek, across my forehead, down the other cheek, then left a soft kiss on the tip of my nose.

"No dream," she whispered again, finding my mouth. My hands sank into the long strands of her hair, bringing her closer to me.

I sighed into the kiss, thinking it was the most wonderful one I'd ever had. I teased Christian's lips with my tongue, easing inside. She moaned softly as our tongues met, slowly caressing.

"I love the way you kiss," she said against my mouth. "I love the way I feel when you touch me. So safe."

"You are safe." I brought my hand up, touching the skin of her face and neck. She raised her head, looking down at me. She flipped all her hair to one side, her head cocked to the side. I looked at her, seeing the way the sun shone through her eyes, making them luminescent. So beautiful. But what astonished me even more was that she was looking at me like that, with so much love and adoration. I would never feel deserving.

"I want to spend the day with you," she said, tracing my chin with her nail. "Go out, get some breakfast, stroll along, maybe do some window shopping. See a show?" she raised her brow with question.

"Absolutely." I smiled big and bright.

"Do you work tomorrow?" she asked, leaning on her elbow, other hand playing in my hair. I ran my hand down the length of her t-shirt-clad back, the cotton warm from her skin.

"I can always work from home." I grinned. So did she.

"You won't get in trouble?"

"No. I do it when I don't feel like going into the office." My hand wandered down to the curve of her lower back, feeling the hot skin where the hem of her shirt ended.

"Hmm, can I have your job?" she asked playfully, leaning down to lay warm lips at the hollow of my throat.

"You could work from home, too," I murmured, my voice slightly breathy as waves of heat began to wash through me. "Just dance in your living room." She chuckled, pushing the neckline of my t-shirt slightly with her fingers, exposing my collar bone.

"I only want to dance with you in my living room," she said before leaving a wet kiss on my skin. My eyes closed, hands sliding their way under her t-shirt, feeling her spine and soft skin.

"Anytime," I breathed, my body temperature steadily rising. I could feel the moisture building, making my panties damp.

"Would you like to shower?" she said against the skin of my upper chest.

"With you?" my hands were now caressing her shoulder blades, which moved as Christian tugged a little lower on my shirt. Again, she chuckled against my skin.

"Either that or with Brutus. Your choice."

As if on cue, a deep whimper sounded from beside the bed. We both glanced over, seeing the dog sitting on the floor next to the bed, chin resting on the mattress. Christian smiled, then looked at me.

"I need to take him out. You get the shower ready." With that, she brought her lips to mine, her kiss deep and passionate. I was breathless as she moved off me, tugging on some flannel pants and a hoodie.

"She's going to kill me," I muttered, getting myself out of bed. I could feel the slickness between my thighs as I got to my feet.

After using the toilet, I pushed the shower door back, listening to it as it rumbled out of the way. Testing the water temperature with my fingers, I waited for it to get nice and warm. The pipes in these old buildings were old, and it took a while for the water to heat up. Finally it was perfect.

Stepping back from the tub, I reached for the hem of my shirt.

"Let me do that," a soft voice said from behind me. I didn't have to turn around as I felt warm hands on my waist, and soft lips on my shoulder. Those hands snaked under the material of my t-shirt, palms running up my sides, around my ribs. "You have such a wonderful body, Grey," Christian whispered, her mouth finding the juncture of neck and shoulder.

"Mmm, that would be you," I moaned. "I love watching you, seeing how you move, staring at your body."

"I used to catch you all the time before," she chuckled, her hands running up my torso until she had my breasts cupped against soft palms. I sighed, head falling back.

"I've gotten better at hiding it now," I grinned. She slowly ran her palms over my nipples, making me moan long and deep.

"I don't want you to hide it. I loved it that you used to stare at me."

"You did?" I asked, raising my arms as she pulled the shirt over my head.

"Yes." I shivered as her words were whispered in my ear. "I thought you were the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen. When Shane told me who I was doing a lap dance for, I nearly came right there."

I whimpered at her words, her hands back on my breasts. I could feel her nipples, hard, through the material of her own shirt, scraping against my naked back.

"I loved it when you'd watch me dance, Grey." Though still sensual, Christian's voice had taken on a more serious timbre. I knew she was revealing her secrets to me. "You were the first person who I felt really saw me and what I could do." She nuzzled her face against my upper back, her hot breath making the hairs stand on end. "I could see it in your eyes, as well as the lust." She chuckled quietly. I smiled.

"You took my breath away, Christian. You still do."

"Thank you for loving me." It was whispered so softly, filled with so much meaning, I nearly cried. Instead I turned in her arms, bringing her face up to mine.

"There's no way I couldn't," I whispered, brushing my lips against hers. "I never stopped."

Christian wrapped her arms around my waist, and I tucked her up against me, wanting so badly to protect her against any and everything.

"Baby?" I said into her hair. "The water's going to get cold."

Christian reached around me, turning the water off. Without a word, she took me by the hand, leading me toward the bed. She pushed me down until I sat on the edge, then crawled up onto my lap. She looked down at me, head cocked to the side. I ran my fingers lazily up and down her back as she ran her fingers through my hair, smiling slightly as she made my hair stand on end. Quickly smoothing it down, Christian leaned in, brushing her lips across my cheek.

I closed my eyes, my hands running down her back to the hem of her shirt. The cotton slowly bunched in my hands as they moved up toward her shoulders. Christian shook her hair free as the shirt cleared her head.

My eyes dropped, taking in her full breasts, so incredibly beautiful. Leaning in, my eyes closed as I inhaled her scent, thumbs running down her spine. Christian sighed, long and slow, her back arching, pushing her breasts toward me. It was too much to resist. Bending my head, I placed a small kiss between her breasts, feeling the tender stroking of my hair. I ran my tongue up until I reached the hollow of her throat, reveling in the needy sigh that produced.

"Oh, Grey," Christian breathed.

Spurred on, I began to plant wet kisses all along her shoulders and collar bones, my hands straddling her sides, fingertips running along her back, thumbs tracing her ribs, then brushing the undersides of Christian's breasts. My mouth kept busy, tasting her skin.

The heat coming from between Christian's legs was burning my bare stomach. Christian's fingers dug into my shoulders as my tongue blazed a trail down to her right breast. I traced a lazy circle around her nipple, never touching the bud. I could feel her hips beginning to rock gently against me.

"So beautiful," I whispered against her breast. Christian gasped as my tongue flicked the rigid skin, her head falling back, hair tickling my fingers on her back. I ran my hands down her back, cupping her ass and pulling her further into me. Christian gasped again, followed by a low grown as her sex came into contact with my stomach.

"You're so wet, baby," I said against her breast, her slickness soaking through her panties, painting my skin.

"I want you so bad, Grey," Christian moaned, bringing my head up with her hand, her mouth meeting my own. I kissed her deep, all my passion for her flowing through that kiss.

"I'm here, baby. I'm yours." I kissed her hard as I brought a hand between our bodies, fingers stroking along her sex.

Christian let out a loud moan, breaking her mouth from mine, head thrust back. I wanted her, and I wanted her now.

With a grunt of exertion, I lifted Christian as I stood, quickly changing our positions. Christian pulled me down on top of her, her mouth desperately trying to find mine. I felt like a rabid animal as I tugged Christian's panties down, the material sticking to her saturated skin. Once they were gone, I couldn't keep the groan down as my fingers were immediately covered as they ran through her wetness.

Christian clung to me, her legs spread wide as I entered her. My eyes closed in sympathy as her hips bucked with each thrust. I hadn't even touched her clit when her breathing turned into a constant panting, her head thrown back on the pillow as she came, hard and loud.

I held my fingers inside her as her body clenched around me, pulsing. The beast in me sated, I moved to her mouth, my free hand caressing the side of her face as I moved my lips against hers, never using my tongue. These kisses were meant to explore, cajole and seduce.

Christian returned my kisses, pushing me to my back. She slid my panties down my legs, tossing them to the floor. Looking down at me, she took in the entirety of my naked body, running her hands along my thighs, a single finger trailing between them, making me gasp as she gathered my wetness on her fingertip. I watched, my tongue absently running across my bottom lip. Christian looked at me, mischief in those eyes, as she painted one of my nipples with my own desire.

My head rolled to the side, eyes closing as she began to suckle me, licking my wetness from my skin. My hands found her head, pushing her deeper into me, silently begging for more. She readjusted her body, nudging a thigh between mine. I groaned as she pressed into me, her wetness painting my own thigh.

"Oh, Grey," she moaned, leaving my breast and finding my mouth. Soon we were breathing too hard to kiss, panting into the other's mouth as we moved together. Christian raised up to her hands, shoulders hunched as she stayed with me, both of us needing that invasion of personal space as she pounded against me, the bed hitting the wall with each powerful thrust.

Christian's mouth left mine as her forehead hit the pillow beside my head, her whimpers burning into my ears. Finally her hips lurched, and with a cry that flung her head back, Christian came. Her cries of pleasure alone threw me off the edge right behind her.

Christian's entire body trembled, her breathing heavy as she lowered herself to me. I wrapped my arms around her, wishing so badly that I could just crawl inside her and surround myself with her warmth. I felt complete for the first time in my life.

I guess you can say we never made it window shopping. Have I mentioned that I owe Shane a really, massively huge apology?

The End

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